Tesco statement on non-GM poultry feed contains inaccurate and misleading information

GM Freeze press release, 11 April 2013

GM Freeze has challenged certain assertions made by Tesco in regard to the supply of non-GM soya for poultry feed and say they are inaccurate and will mislead customers[1] .

The three contentious claims are that:

* there simply isn't enough non-GM feed available.

Current information from non-GM soya producers in Brazil (the main source of non-GM soya for animal feed) indicates that non GM soya production in Brazil is 20.8m tonnes from 9 states but only 11.7m tonnes are certified non-GM. This is over 25% of the total crops and adequate to meet EU requirements. Therefore if Tesco were to be proactive in the market they could source non-GM feed and deliver what their customers want.[2]

* DNA from modified soya is not present in the meat of animals fed on it

This statement contradicts the latest advice from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) which states:

"It is therefore possible that DNA fragments derived from GM plant materials may occasionally be detected in animal tissues, in the same way that DNA fragments derived from non-GM plant materials can be detected in these same tissues."[3]

Indeed recent statements reporting on EU funded research made in 2012 went further than this:

"There are also indications showing that genes from Bt (unique to Bt maize for example) can be found in the blood and also the proteins and antibodies against those proteins can be found in the blood of animal that have eaten this. That means there are components that can be transferred from the food/fed to the body and then maybe further onto to the next level that is eating this".[4]

* Farmers across the world choose to grow modified soya for a number of reasons, but usually because modified crops are more resistant to certain pests and diseases.

This statement is incorrect. The only GM soya which is commercially cultivated in anywhere in the world is herbicide tolerant or with altered oil composition. There are no GM soya varieties available to farmers which are either disease resistant or insect resistant [5].

In other EU countries major companies such as the German dairy company Campina has been pursuing a "no biotech" policy on animal feed since 2009 and the French supermarket giant Carrefour launched a similar policy in 2010[7]. Recent research by the FSA showed two thirds of UK consumers want labelling of animal products if GM feed has been used in their production[6]. Tesco's statement made no such undertaking and therefore GM fed poultry will not be labelled.

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said: "Tesco have badly let down their customers by changing their policy on GM in poultry feed. For the last decade or more they could have invested money in securing non-GM soya supplies as Carrefour have done in France but instead they have ignored their customers concern.

Tesco's then add insult to industry by issuing a misleading and inaccurate statement in an attempt to justify their decision.

A big company like Tesco could and should be able to source non-GM animal feed through established certification routes from Brazil and label their products as non-GM fed.

Tesco's judgment on investment has been questioned by shareholders following their unsuccessful attempts to gain footholds in the US and Japanese markets and the decision to support GM production could be as damaging to consumer confidence."

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341065

Notes to editors

1. See An Update on Poultry Feed

2.Information from IMCOPA - Brazilian non-GM soya supplier. Copy available on request.

3. See

4. Statement made at press conference following the GMSAFood project conference in May 2012 by Professor Ashild Krogdahl of the Norwegian Veterinary School 6th May 2012

The GMSAFood project partners are: the Medical University of Vienna, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Australia), the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, the Irish Agriculture Food and Development Authority, the Central Food Research Institute Hungary, and TroykaTurkey.

5. See ISAAA data base

6. Food Standards Agency, 9 January 2013. GM Labelling: Exploring public responses to the labelling of GM food and the use of GM-free labelling. Qualitative and Quantitative Findings were based on research carried out by Define Research and Insight.

7. See

Pete Riley
Campaign Director, GM Freeze
50 South Yorkshire Buildings, Silkstone Common, Barnsley S75 4RJ
email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel 0845 217 8992 Mob 07903 341065